5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Next Ad Photoshoot

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5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Next Ad Photoshoot

Great photos are extremely important, especially with Facebook advertising. If a brand has poor photo assets, it’s going to be difficult to actually build a credible brand. You don’t get fantastic photo imagery by accident. It’s all about the photoshoot. Online advertising photoshoots are a different kind of beast from any other type of photoshoot and need to be treated as such. Here are 5 things to consider that will help you get the most out of your next advertising photoshoot.

1. Think 2 Steps Ahead
Thinking ahead means you’re thinking about the end use at the shoot and it means having a strategy. If thinking long-term isn’t your forte, consider investing in a crystal ball or palm reading, because advertising photoshoots are all about the long ball. It’s not just “place product here, snap some pics, and slap a logo on that baby.” Everything is an intricate web of strategy, messaging and design that all needs to fit together. For instance, a common mistake happens when the photographer isn’t thinking ahead to what the designer can do with his photographs. The photographer begins taking exquisite headshots or product shots, obsessing over lighting and focus (if they’re good). The images look incredible except for one small problem: There’s no room for headlines, body copy, or a logo. The designer is forced to shove text in weird places, ruining the overall aesthetics of the image and destroying the ad’s effectiveness.

A good photoshoot requires that everyone is thinking 2 steps ahead in the ad creation process. If budget calls for it, hire a talking parrot that only squawks, “What happens next, rrraarrr” If you’re not thinking 2 steps ahead, you’ll end up having to backpedal 2 steps behind… and maybe even have to do a reshoot.

2. Prioritize
Focus on things that matter. Have an objective. The 2005 blockbuster movie, Sahara, made over $120 million at the box office. Yet despite doing well in theaters, it ended up losing over $100 million in total cost. Why? Because the producers lacked any understanding of prioritization. They spent all sorts of money on licenses they didn’t need and expensive production sets that never even made it into the film.

The secret to prioritization is starting early. It seems simple, but as the stress and pressure to capture the perfect photoshoot can cloud your judgement. More and more of your budget will go to things that don’t matter. Begin assessing from day 1 what your shoot needs most. How much should you be spending on the talent? What props or items do you need to make the shoot work? How much should you be spending on a location? What type of photographer do you need? Keep in mind that underspending can be just as detrimental as overspending if you’re cutting corners on elements that really matter. There’s no formula for the perfect shoot. Every one is different. If you’re leaving all your planning until the day of, understand that either your images or your budget is going to suffer. How agencies can wing it without extensive pre-production work baffles us.

3. Know The Law
Ignorance of the law during a photoshoot can amount to more than just poor images. This point alone is the major reason you should always work with professionals who know what they’re doing. Otherwise, a $2,000 shoot can turn into a $50,000 lawsuit.

For a start, always have your actors sign a model release form before the shoot begins. After a long day of shooting, the last thing on anyone’s mind is legal forms. The forms don’t end up getting signed at all. Then for the next couple of days you have to play a telephone game of cat and mouse for permission to use the photos. It’s also a good idea to have everyone at the shoot sign a release form. You never know when you’ll need the college intern to add some life to the background of your shoots, but if they never signed a form, you could be left responsible.

A more frequent problem comes from breaking copyright laws. Photographing copyrighted works means that you are reproducing it, and reproductions require permission. Before any shoot, check your entire scene. Are there any company logos you don’t have permission to use? Even a small logo on your talent’s shirt could get you into trouble. Does your set have any pictures hanging on the walls? If the picture wasn’t made by someone long dead, you’ll need to either take it down or get permission to use it. What about magazines, newspapers, or even books that can be distinguished? If you don’t have permission, get ‘em outta there.

4. Stay True To The Brand
A photoshoot has to stay consistent with the brand’s voice. Inconsistent branding makes it difficult for viewers to verify your ads’ authenticity. Any time someone clicks on an email, ad or website, they’re taking a small leap of faith. If a photo doesn’t “feel” like a brand’s identity, viewers might not take that leap.

Before even beginning a shoot, make sure the entire team understands a brand’s identity. Do they prefer modern styling or classical elegance? Do they favor warm colors or cool ones? Does the set match the brand? Does the talent reflect how the brand should be represented? Does the talent’s clothing match the brand’s style? Memorize the brand’s identity and constantly be searching for inconsistencies during the shoot. It’ll feel almost obsessive-compulsive, but it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

There’s a reason I say a photo shoot must stay “true enough” to a brand. The same rules that keep a brand consistent can also shackle it to the ground, preventing innovation from ever happening. For instance, Nike has built a brand image on featuring the world’s most impressive athletes. Yet during the latest Olympics, Nike showed ads with an overweight child running instead. The boy’s breaths are staggered and difficult. The ad is strikingly different from Nike’s norm, which features athletes doing the most incredible feats while making them seem easy. In some pictures of the boy, he appears to be on the verge of passing out. Yet his face expresses an incredible determination. That determination is what connects these photos back to the brand. Even though the pictures innovate from Nike’s normal content, they still feel consistent “enough” with the brand’s overall identity.

There’s no true formula for how much a photoshoot can differ from the brand before it goes from being innovative to inconsistent. It takes a trained team that can familiarize themselves with the brand’s ins and outs to understand what’s possible.

5. Develop A Focus
Photoshoots are like diets. Without a goal, they flail around, finally resulting in a full-grown man stashing snicker bars into his cheeks like a squirrel while crying uncontrollably. The last thing you’ll ever want to hear during a shoot is, “So, what should we do now?” That phrase is directly equivalent to a waste of time, money and strategic direction.

Before even thinking about picking up a camera, a clear goal needs to be established. What does the photoshoot need to accomplish? How will the images fit into the brand’s overall marketing strategy? Before we begin planning a shoot, our team always does a complete analysis of the brand’s current and past marketing efforts. What images are working well? Where is the greatest opportunity we should focus on? Answers to these questions will help you develop an overall goal for your shoot. If this process is done correctly, you’ll not only get incredible images but creative assets that’ll drive growth for your brand.

Need Help?
I like saying, “Leave this one to the professionals.” Makes me feel like my 7-year-old-self pretending to be a secret agent. But in this case, it’s something you should consider. Real images always trump stock photos if they’re done right, otherwise it’s a nightmare. If your brand is currently hiring some friend of a friend hack to shoot mediocre photos, give us a call. Like the ghostbusters of photoshoots, one call and we’ll make all those nightmares go away.



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